Jurgen Klinsmann has called up 23 players ahead of the USMNT friendlies vs. Peru and Brazil next week. The games will serve as the final preparations before the United States takes on Mexico on October 10 in the CONCACAF playoff at the Rose Bowl.
Klinsmann named a veteran-heavy squad, only one player in it is uncapped, as he tries to determine how the team will line up against El Tri in October.
Per U.S. Soccer the squad is as follows:
Goalkeepers: Brad Guzan, Tim Howard, William Yarbrough
Defenders: Ventura Alvarado, John Brooks, Matt Besler, Geoff Cameron, Greg Garza, Omar Gonzalez, Michael Orozco, Tim Ream
Midfielders: Alejandro Bedoya, Joe Carona, Mix Diskerud, Jermaine Jones, Alfredo Morales, Danny Williams, DeAndre Yedlin
Forwards: Jozy Altidore, Aron Johannsson, Bobby Wood, Andrew Wooten, Gyasi Zardes
Obviously the big story here is that the names Michael Bradley and Clint Dempsey are not listed above. They will be added to the team for the September 8 match against Brazil but they’ll be skipping the match against Peru on September 4. Why?
As it turns out, on Saturday September 5 Toronto FC (Bradley) will be in Seattle to take on the Sounders (Dempsey) and both players will be playing in that game.
On Friday, ESPN reported that an agreement had been reached before the June friendlies against Germany and the Netherlands that Bradley would play in those games, but would remain with his club for their match with Seattle. Toronto of course would like to have Bradley available as they currently sit tied for fourth place, ahead only on goal differential, in the MLS’ Eastern Conference as they come to the playoff race.
The fact that Klinsmann is even allowing this is mind-boggling. After a disastrous fourth place finish in this summer’s Gold Cup, Klinsmann has to know that this match against Mexico is one of the biggest non-World Cup matches in U.S. soccer history. Furthermore, whether it’s fair or not, Klinsmann is likely going to be judged based on the outcome of this game. This makes it critical for the U.S. to be firing on all cylinders when the time comes and allowing your two most recent captains to skip it for a club match is detrimental to the team.
At the end of the day, Klinsmann is doing a favor to Toronto by allowing this to happen. A favor that he in no way owes them. The match is scheduled on a FIFA fixture date, therefore if Bradley was called in, Toronto would be required to let him go. If Toronto has a problem with this they should take up their concerns with MLS; who, despite wanting to be taken seriously as a league around the world, continue to schedule matches during International Breaks.
But let’s not let Toronto off the hook here either. The real reason they want Bradley around is because they’ve been in a bit of a skid lately. They’ve won just three times in their last 10 games. Here’s a look at what Toronto FC did during the month of July.
Toronto signed Bradley in January 2014, so they already knew that between the World Cup, Gold Cup, 2016 Copa America Centenario, a hopeful 2017 Confederations Cup, and the 2018 World Cup, Bradley would be missing a month in at least four of the next five summers. Yet they went ahead and signed him anyway and made him the central point of their team. That’s the bed Toronto made for itself.
This doesn’t mean Bradley is innocent though. Throughout his career, and specifically this summer, Bradley always spoke about what an honor it is to put on the U.S. shirt and represent his country, an honor that he is now choosing not to accept as his team prepares for its most important match of the year.
Bardley, as the captain of the team, if you value playing a regular season game for your club team more than captaining your country as it prepares for its biggest game of the year, you should consider retiring from the national team so you won’t have to worry about letting your teammates and country down again.